John Bull's Description of a Church
by John Collins
A hand-drawn and hand-colored illustration accompanied by a hand-written poem in an early nineteeth-century hand. The poem, by actor and poet John Collins (d. 1808), describes the first visit of the "bumpkin" John Bull (a literary and satirical character commonly used as an embodiment of English character or Englishness) to a church. There, he witnesses several sights he finds bewildering, but he ultimately undone by a christening, which sends him running from the church, swearing never to return. The illustration captures Bull in the moment of turning to flee the scene of the christening in horror. Collins published this poem in his book, Scripscrapologia; Or, Collins's Doggerel Dish of All Sorts (Birmingham: by the author, 1804). The poem also appeared in newspapers in the United States: prose versions were printed in the Boston Weekly Magazine of Saturday Evening, February 9, 1805, and also in The Bureau, or Repository of Literature, Politics, and Intelligence by S.C. Carpenter on Saturday, June 27, 1812. The exact origin of this copy of the text is not entirely clear. None of the publications mentioned above, including the author's own book, Scripscrapologia, print anything like the illustration that accompanies this version, or indeed any illustration at all. The text is also distinct from the versions mentioned above in a variety of ways, some of which are as subtle as change of stanza structure or slight alterations of word choice. It is also worth noting that the handwritten version includes various "corrections" to bring standard English spelling into line with the west country vernacular that Collins used in some versions of the text, but notably not in his book. Condition: Good to Very Good. Some breakage of the paper around the edges obscures a line of text at the very top of the page (written in a different hand, and not of a piece with the text below it) and partially obscures the last line of the poem, which is nevertheless still legible. A closed tear that extends up an old crease in the center of the page cuts through the last two stanzas of the poem, but does not significantly impact legibility.
Dimensions 11.375 x 17.75 inches (manuscript); 17.125 x 21.125 inches (frame). 1328116. Shelved Dupont Bookstore. (Inventory #: 1328116)